Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

Ever since switching to Apple products– we must have six or seven permutations of Apple's computers, iPads, Nanos and phones  our household’s experience of the Internet and of computing has broadened and deepened and been a source, frequently, of amazement, delight and pleasure at the richness the world has to offer. For that, and for delivering the promise of computing in so beautiful a manner, I thank Steve Jobs. His death is not only sad and too soon, but underscores how rarely such architects of the imagination happen along – yet his work increases the chances that other such architects of ideas will flourish.

“And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus, every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I
found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never have had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”

-Steve Jobs, in his commencement speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005

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